Sunday, May 26, 2013

Colors of Rome

Fresco of an Ancient Roman Dye Shop

While men's togas were white (or sometimes a beige you might get from un-dyed wool), women were not as restricted in the colors they could wear, except by cost .   You can see the colors that were available to Romans in the first century below.

In addition to white and natural wool there were various colors that were inexpensive enough that most people could afford them.  The colors below were made with dyes that were in a commoner's price range*--and as you can tell are more faded/muted colors.  Madder for red, pinks, peaches and browns.  Weld for yellow.  Lichen for green (and brown).  Woad for blue.

Naturally-dyed Sock Yarn, Madder Root2 - sheepsandpeeps
Rose Madder Natural Dye Scarlet Textured Thread Pack - TheOccasionalPurl
Singularities 102 Madder root mohair and wool yarn eco friendly naturally dyed 128 yards - girlwithasword
Singularities 11 Madder root mohair and wool yarn eco friendly naturally dyed 7.8 oz - girlwithasword
Handspun merino yarn natural dyed yellow - SpinningStreak
Weld Naturally Plant Dyed Merino Wool Yarn - Fingering Weight - 420 yards - M-16 - EscapeToEvermore
Super Wash Wool Roving Plant Dyed Olive Greens - by using Indigo & Onion Skins - WoolEwePlay
sale-DELICATE KNITTED DRESS, soft sage green, size M, 32-34" bust - BinkyLoveCat
pure wool natural dyed - tikayArtes
Weekend Workshop - Dyeing & Feltmaking - Creative Coastal Weekend in Dorset UK - EnglishTilly
Three Skein Listing for All Natural Handspun Mohair Alpaca Blend Yarn Natural Dye with Madder Root Onion Skins Woad Leaves Blue Red Yellow - Woodlandtrailfarm
Pink - Madder & Chamomile Botanically Dyed Tea Towel Linen / Cotton Blend Fabric - Hand Sewn - Free Shipping - sandySTC
Treasury tool by StylishHome.  Thanks to the people on Etsy who let me use these pictures.
You can click on the picture to visit their shops.

*All of these items shown below were actually made with dyes that were used during the Roman empire, except the green...I couldn't find anyone making green with lichen on etsy, but did find examples on this site  and this one which showed some greens actually made with lichen, which I used to pick out the green items above.    

The following colors would have cost quite a bit more to make.  The darker and more vivid the color, the more expensive it would be.  These colors were made with saffron (yellow/orange), indigo (blue),  kermes insects (crimson), and the most expensive of them all, the murex shell (tyrian purple...which could be nearly blood-red). These would have only been available to the very rich, and it would have been a symbol of your status to wear them.

FELTED WOOL PIECES Crimson wf458 - FabulousFabricFinds
Viscose wool felt - hand dyed - bright red, scarlet, crimson,magenta, dark pink - therainbowgirl
CUSTOM FOR RACHEL  Sari Ribbon color is Saffron - designtalentedone
Solid color HANDLOOM silk saffron  pillow case plain cushion cover 16 inches square 40x40 cm - cottagecraftonline
Madder, Saffron, and Onion Skin Dyed Handspun Yarn - SirenSongYarnsFiber
Hand Dyed Silk Rods by LarkspurFunnyFarm  ( Saffron ) 6 per packet - larkspurfunnyfarm
Sunshine - Wool and Silk Dyed with Saffron - SirenSongYarnsFiber
Camelia 55g, dyed with natural indigo 401 - PataNoita
Indigo Dyed Cotton Fabric - MilkweedQuilts
1oz of Cashmere/ Silk 50/50 dyed with Indigo - lochlomondstudio
Indigo Dyed Cotton Collection of Three Dozen - MilkweedQuilts
SALE MCN - Pampered Sock- 100 grams Color Purple Passion Hand Dyed Yarn - HauteKnitYarn
Hand dyed BASIC fingering weight Sock Yarn Skein - superwash merino and nylon blend - SWN103 - mulberryfibers
Hand Dyed Fingering/Sock Yarn Singles, 100% Superwash Merino,Tyrian Purple - Quaere
Baby Camel Silk Cobweb Lace Yarn Hand dyed Soie et Bebe Chameau Merlot - 1azclace

Because there are much cheaper ways to make these colors today, I couldn't find anyone on etsy using, for instace, kermes insects or murex shells to dye their wares, but I found some other pictures online of actual items made with these dyes and matched them with the colors shown above.  The blue colors above were actually made with indigo though, and some of the yellows were actually made with saffron.

Thanks to all the people on Etsy who let me use these pictures.
You can click on the pictures in the color mosaics to visit their shops.  Most of the particular items shown have been sold but you can find other similar items.

Here are the sources I found of actual items dyed with the rarer historic dyes:

Dyed With Saffron

Dyed wtih Murex Shell Tyrian Purple

Dyed With Kermes

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful collection of naturally dyed colors! Great research. I do know that you can get a pretty good yellow using onion skins.